for Out-of-School Time
by Lena Townsend, Executive Director
When we sent out invitations to our May 18 panel discussion on Public Funding for Out-of-School Time: A Conversation with Funders, we anticipated perhaps 50 participants. We got three times that many. Obviously funding is a major concern for afterschool programs!
In New York City and State, we enjoy an unusually high level of public funding for OST programming. NYC has the largest municipally funded afterschool program in the country, as Bill Chong of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development pointed out at our panel discussion. DYCD anticipates increasing that funding to $121 million annually by September 2008. John Soja of the NYS Education Department told us that, out of nearly $1 billion in federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding, New York State gets $90 million, and 60 percent of that comes to New York City. On the state level, Digna Sanchez of the Office of Children and Family Services pointed out that Governor Spitzer’s stated commitment to improving educational opportunities for children and families, exemplified in his establishment of a Children’s Cabinet, can only be good news for OST providers.
Yet we all know the bad news as well. Hundreds of thousands of children—particularly teens and young adults—remain unserved. We have some 200,000 young adults in NYC who are neither in school nor employed. Bill Chong noted that the city actually pays for home care--where no one knows whether opportunities for academic support and enrichment are provided—for some 29,000 children. We’ve known that 21 CCLC funding for the first cohort of programs is sunsetting, but we’re recently learned that our hope for additional funding from New York State to keep these programs running has not been realized. (Read “200 Afterschool Programs to Close” from the Nonprofit Press and “A Harsh Lesson in Finance for Afterschool Students” from the New York Times.) Fragmentation and lack of interagency cooperation at all levels of government provide real challenges to OST programs seeking public funding. Smaller community-based organizations in particular have an uphill battle to get the attention of public funders.
That’s where advocacy efforts come in, and why the Robert Bowne Foundation has adopted advocacy as our newest priority in our effort to support afterschool programming. In the last issue, I outlined the advocacy initiatives we’re undertaking this year. We’re also proud to partner with such organizations as the Afterschool Alliance at the national level, the New York State Afterschool Network at the state level, and the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition (NFSC) in New York City to support the advocacy efforts of afterschool providers.
This e-newsletter serves as part of our effort to provide information about public policy issues so that afterschool organizations can make informed decisions about their advocacy needs. In this issue, you can read what the public funders had to say in our panel discussion about their priorities for the near future, and Michelle Yanche of NFSC describes why “Afterschool Advocacy Matters!”